HC Deb 09 October 1941 vol 374 cc1125-6
55. Captain Cunningham-Reid

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that, of 50 men called to Middlesex Guildhall, on 25th September, 20 were kept waiting day after day without serving on a jury; that many of these men were called from work of national importance; and whether he will take steps to prevent this wastage of man-power?

Mr. H. Morrison

I have made inquiry and am informed that there was a particularly heavy calendar of cases for trial at these Sessions. Sixty-four jurors were summoned, of whom 13 were excused in advance of the Sessions. None' of the remaining jurors asked to be excused when their names were called on the first day, but six of them applied for and were granted release on subsequent days. During the entire period of the Sessions no application for release was refused; and in the course of the later days of the Session the reserve juries were released as soon as it became clear that they could be safely spared. As the hon. and gallant Member will appreciate, it is impossible to calculate beforehand precisely how many jurors will be required, and some margin is needed to allow for such contingencies as excusals, illness, or the need for empanelling an entirely fresh jury if a disagreement occurs. I am, however, very anxious that all practicable steps shall be taken to economise the use of manpower; and the number of jurors who need to be summoned on any particular occasion has been substantially reduced by various emergency provisions. I feel sure that those responsible for the summoning and release of jurors will keep in mind the importance of interfering as little as practicable with work of national importance.

Captain Cunningham-Reid

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that 20 jurors in reserve for over four days are rather too many?

Mr. Morrison

Attention has been called to the matter, and I have no doubt that notice will be taken of it, but there are all the other considerations to which I have drawn attention.